There’s another five games on the cards for Round 9 of the A-League season and the ladder is still very congested as we head into the festive period.
While it’s not as busy as the English calendar, it’s still an important time for all of these clubs as they try and keep their names in the mix.
For the “Western” clubs, Wanderers and United they will be desperate to end losing streaks that could see them fall down the table very quickly if they cannot arrest their slumps.
Meanwhile, last season’s all conquering Premiers Perth Glory are languishing at the bottom of the table with a tough test against Melbourne City kicking off this weekend.
Check out our previews and betting plays for all five A-League matches right here.
Friday 6 December, 7:30pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 0 – Perth 3
The easy option here is to call this one the “Bruno Fornaroli Derby” as the Uruguayan Striker returns to AAMI Park, where he made his name in the A-League before being frozen out by former City manager Warren Joyce.
He has moved west, although it has not been a successful stint from a wins perspective with the Glory anchored to the bottom of the A-League ladder with six points from seven matches.
The man who replaced him in City blue, Jamie Maclaren has been borderline unstoppable with nine goals in just four appearances.
His superb strike rate has Melbourne’s “other” club flying in second place right on the tail of Sydney FC.
While City does not have a great history against Perth, this is clearly a very different City side that is good enough to get the job done here.
SGM: Melbourne City to Win & Jamie Maclaren Anytime Goalscorer
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 7 December, 5:00pm, Eden Park
Wellington 2 – Western Sydney 1
How much is a form line worth at the moment?
Wellington has won its last two, but sits in ninth while the fourth placed Wanderers have lost three on the trot.
The latter’s fast start is a distant memory and the pressure is getting turned up on Markus Babbel.
It’s a bit up and down for both of these clubs at the moment so I’ll steer clear of it and see if the picture on either of these sides clears up at all.
Saturday 7 December, 7:30pm, Nestrata Jubilee Stadium
Sydney FC 5 – Brisbane 1
What do you know, Brisbane showed some signs of life against the Mariners, picking up their second win of the season.
Robbie Fowler’s tweaks to the starting lineup paid huge dividends as both Dylan Wenzell-Halls and Jamie Young played key roles in the 2-0 victory.
It’s a huge test coming up for them however with a trip to Kogarah to face the league leading Sydney FC.
This will be the second competitive meeting of the two sides with the Roar coming away victorious in the FFA Cup Round of 32 back in August.
In the A-League these matches have produced plenty of goals with Both Teams to Score hitting in the last four league meetings between these two.
If Fowler opts for a similar tactical setup to last week the Roar should create enough chances to score on a Sydney backline that has kept just the one clean sheet this season.
That being said though, Sydney still has an incredibly strong attack that should be able to break down the Roar enough times to get the victory.
SGM: Sydney FC to Win & Both Teams to Score @ $2.86
Sunday 8 December, 4:00pm, GMHBA Stadium
Western United 3 – Melbourne Victory 1
When these sides met five weeks ago, it was one of the games of the season with the new boys springing an upset in their first derby against their navy blue rivals.
It’s been three barren weeks for Western United in the build up to this rematch though, with no points and no goals in losses to the Jets, Mariners and Sydney FC.
Goals have not been flying in for the Victory either with that derby defeat the only time they have scored more than once in a match all season.
That output cannot continue for a team with such a heavily stacked group of attackers and with the confidence they gained from picking up a much needed win over Perth last weekend, they should be able to get a couple more goals here.
Unfortunately their backline still looks pretty vulnerable and a motivated Besart Berisha will be too much to stop at the other end.
Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.80
Sunday 8 December, 6:00pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide 2 – Newcastle 1
The Reds have had Newcastle’s number lately with three wins and two draws from the last five meetings.
For some reason they decided to go to sleep against Wellington last week and you would expect some sort of response after dropping points at home there.
Newcastle has put together its first winning streak of the season thanks to two late strikes to get them up over the Wanderers last week.
That should serve as a warning to Adelaide that they need to be on their guard against the Jets and I’ll back the quality of the Reds to get them over the line here.
SGM: Adelaide to Win & Both Teams to Score @ $3.29
Round 8 was a good week to be the visitors with the away side taking out four of the five contests.
In another statistical oddity, all five A-League matches in produced a winner, absolutely no draws whatsoever.
As the competition enters its festive period the matches begin to come thick and fast as depth is put to the test across the league.
There’s a double dose of derby action this weekend with the Melbourne Derby headlining Saturday’s sporting card and the F3/M1… Regional New South Wales Derby on Sunday afternoon.
Read on for our previews and predictions for all five A-League matches in Round 9
Friday 21 December, 7:50pm, NIB Stadium
Perth 1 – Sydney FC 2
A huge game to kick start Round 9 of the A-League sees Sydney travel west to face the ladder leading Glory.
With a very even market so far, how you feel about this game will be determined by whether you put more weight into the last few seasons or recent history.
Perth’s last win over the Sky Blues came in February 2016 and they have been on the receiving end of some big losses since then.
Under Tony Popovic this season though, Perth have looked like a very different side compared to what has been trotted out the last few seasons.
With Sydney potentially short handed in defence thanks to injury, Perth look well placed to break their eight-game slide against the defending Premiers.
Back Perth to Win @ $2.40
Saturday 22 December, 5:35pm, Westpac Stadium
Wellington 4 – Brisbane 1
The last four meetings between these sides have ended in a draw, and a quick glance at the numbers suggests this might be an even game.
Both sides have scored nine goals and are converting their chances at a similar rate, but recent form has weighed heavily towards the Nix.
The home side has put together back to back wins and could end the weekend as high as fifth if results go their way, while Brisbane has lost three in a row.
There have been some high scoring clashes between these sides with three of the last five meetings having four or more goals and Brisbane does not look like they have anyone capable of slowing down Roy Krishna.
Back Wellington to Win @ $2.30
Saturday 22 December, 7:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 1 – Melbourne Victory 1
Another edition of the Melbourne Derby and City come into this game with bragging rights in this rivalry, having won their last meeting in Round One.
Outside of those clashes however, this rivalry has been mostly Victory oriented with the navy-blue half of Melbourne winning four of the last six.
The defending champions have also won six in a row and looked unstoppable in their first half goal spree in Brisbane last week.
If they show a similar level of ruthlessness in this fixture it is hard to see City matching them goal for goal.
Backing the Victory on their recent winning streak has been a profitable play and the look over the odds here, so stick with that strategy for the time being.
Back Victory to Win @ $2.20
Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 23 December, 5:00pm, Coopers Stadium
Central Coast 1 – Newcastle 2
The other derby this weekend comes from the New South Wales central coast region with the Mariners and Jets facing off for the 45th time.
Newcastle would happily take a repeat of their Round 27 meeting from last season where they demolished the wooden spoon Mariners 8-2 in Gosford or failing that, a repeat of the 5-1 win from last season’s opening round.
With the way Central Coast has played lately, losing its last six games, another blowout is certainly on the cards.
During that streak they have conceded 16 goals and been outscored by an average of two goals per game.
Newcastle will be welcoming back striker Roy O’Donovan after serving his ban from last season’s Grand Final and he will want to make up for lost time.
Look for a value play here and take Newcastle with the handicap to further add to the Mariners misery.
Back Newcastle to Win and Score 3+ Goals (Same Game Multi)
Western Sydney Wanderers
Wednesday 26 December, 7:50pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide 2 – Western Sydney 2
Neither side will be all that happy with their results from last week, with the Wanderers losing their local derby while the Reds just couldn’t break down Melbourne City as they went down 2-0.
Western Sydney go into this game without their anchor at the back, with goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic suspended after his red card in the Sydney Derby.
Adelaide look like they will go into this game without a striker (again) as injuries force them to improvise with they way they deploy their attack.
After being a very early withdrawal in the Sydney Derby, Wanderers playmaker Alexander Baumjohann will be eager to make up for lost time and looms as a key figure in this one and should be the difference here.
Back the Wanderers to Win and Under 2.5 Goals (Same Game Multi)
Last week had it all with red cards, video reviews, late drama and so much more so it will be well worth watching to see what Round 9 of the A-League has to offer.
Every game in Round 8 was decided by a two or more goal margin with a clear gap emerging between the top of the ladder and the chasing pack.
Melbourne City are in danger of sliding out of premiership contention after their hot start and will face a stern test against Newcastle in the feature game of the round.
Friday 1 December, 7:50pm, Coopers Stadium
Sydney will have enjoyed six days off after closing out a very busy week against Brisbane last week.
Despite never really getting out of second gear in attack they were disciplined and resolute in defence, denying the Roar any decent chances until the game was in hand.
Adelaide have been rather wasteful in front of goal so far this season, with an underwhelming eight goals scored and just thirty shots on target.
Sydney should be able to suffocate the Adelaide attack and generate enough chances themselves to win away from home.
Back Sydney FC to Win @ $2.05
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 2 December, 5:35pm, ANZ Stadium
It will be all hands on deck for the Roar as they travel to Sydney for their second straight match in Sydney, this time against the Wanderers.
With a severely depleted stock of central defenders it is going to be a makeshift group of players at the back and that may lead into a game with plenty of goals.
Western Sydney will also be without Robbie Cornthwaite who picked up a red card against Adelaide depleting their defensive depth as well.
This is a game that looks like it will have plenty of goals in it as both sides try to get back in the winners’ circle.
Back Over 3.5 Goals @ $2.65
Saturday 2 December, 7:50pm, McDonald Jones Stadium
Dimitri Petratos is enjoying the best form of his career and is helping the Jets to get to second spot on the ladder.
The Jets were excellent in their demolition of Melbourne Victory last week and with their entire team contributing in attack, it will be a big ask for Melbourne City who enter this game without the suspended Osama Malik.
Captain Mikael Jakobsen will have to be redeployed to cover for that absence but with the behind the scenes turmoil being reported on it is hard to see this game being anything other than a Jets win.
Back the Newcastle Jets to Win @ $2.25
Sunday 3 December, 2:30pm, Westpac Stadium
Neither side will be overly confident having been on the receiving end of heavy defeats last weekend.
Discipline has been a major issue for the Victory and it will be the reason they are without their skipper.
It is hard to see the Phoenix being able to capitalise on that absence however as they are struggling with just one win in their last six games as well.
The Victory will be very eager to pepper the Phoenix goal with as many shots as possible and it will be a good way to boost their confidence with a comfortable win.
Back Melbourne Victory to Win @ $2.20
Central Coast Mariners
Sunday 3 December, 5:00pm, Central Coast Stadium
Losers of three out of their last five games plus a history of poor performances when travelling to the East Coast has Perth set up for a long afternoon in Gosford.
After a comfortable victory in New Zealand the Mariners are finally starting to look settled under Paul Okon with Daniel De Silva starting to show flashes that justify his reputation as one of Australia’s most exciting young prospects.
He should be able to pick apart a Perth backline that is in shambles and win a high scoring game.
Back Central Coast Mariners to Win @ $2.20
There was plenty of spite when Melbourne City and the Brisbane Roar did battle at Suncorp Stadium earlier this season and they will renew acquaintances in the match of the weekend on Saturday night.
The Newcastle Jets will be keen to knock off Sydney FC in front of their home fans on Sunday afternoon before the round concludes when Adelaide United face the Wellington Phoenix.
There is genuine betting interest in every single game in the A-League this weekend and you can find our recommended plays below.
Friday 2 December, 6:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne Victory 1 - Perth Glory 1
The Melbourne Victory have won two games on the trot and they will go into this clash with the Perth Glory as clear favourites.
Melbourne have played some solid football in recent weeks, but they are still tough to trust from a betting standpoint – they have won only five of their past 11 games as home favourites for a clear loss.
Perth looked to be heading in the right direction, but they produced their worst performance of the season to suffer at shock loss at the hands of the Perth Glory last Thursday night.
The Glory have still proven to be a strong betting team over the past 12 months.
They have won four of their past 11 games as away underdogs for a clear profit and the $4.50 on offer for them to return to winning form is definitely over the odds.
Back Perth Glory To Win @ $4.50
Central Coast Mariners
Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday 3 December, 4:35pm, Central Coast Stadium
Central Coast Mariners 1 - Western Sydney Wanderers 4
The Central Coast Mariners finally returned to winning form in front of their home fans, but they will still go into this clash with the Western Sydney Wanderers as clear underdogs.
Central Coast continue to take big steps forward in 2016 and their performance against the Perth Glory was easily their best of the season to date.
In saying that, they have still won only two of their past 11 games as home underdogs and they remain a work in progress.
Western Sydney have not won a game for six weeks and they played out there fifth draw from their past six games when they faced Brisbane last Friday night.
The Wanderers have won three of their past six games as away favourites for a narrow loss and it is tough to have any confidence in their recent performances.
This is a game that the market looks to have got just about right and I am more than happy to stay out from a betting perspective.
Saturday 3 December, 6:50pm, AAMI Park
Melbourne City 1 - Brisbane Roar 1
Melbourne City will be on the quick back-up following the FFA Cup Final with Sydney FC on Wednesday.
Melbourne City have not lost since they went down to the Brisbane Roar at the start of the month and they will go into this clash as clear favourites.
They continue to be extremely tough to beat in front of their home fans at AAMI Park and they have now won ten of their past 12 games as home favourites for a clear profit.
Winning away from home continues to be a problem for the Roar and they have won just one of their past eight games as away underdogs, while three of these games have finished as stalemates.
Backing Melbourne City at home continues to be a winning formula and there is no reason to divert from that this weekend.
Back Melbourne City To Win @ $1.95
Sunday 4 December, 4:00pm, Hunter Stadium
Newcastle Jets 0 - Sydney FC 2
Sydney FC will also be on the quick back-up from the FFA Cup Final and will go into this clash with the Newcastle Jets as clear favourites.
Sydney FC remain unbeaten in the A-League this season, but they produced arguably their worst performance of the season to date against Adelaide United last weekend.
They have won their past six games against the Newcastle Jets, but their record as away favourites is a fairly lacklustre 3-3.
Newcastle have taken a step backwards following their strong start to the season and they have now lost four of their past five games.
The Jets do generally save their best performances for their home fans and they have won three of their past 10 games as home underdogs for a clear profit.
Sydney FC are deserving favourites, but there is no value at their current price and I am willing to take a gamble on the Jets.
Back Newcastle To Win @ $4.33
Sunday 4 December, 6:00pm, Coopers Stadium
Adelaide United 2 - Wellington Phoenix 0
Adelaide United are still chasing their first win of the A-League season, but they will go into this clash with the Wellington Phoenix as clear favourites.
Adelaide continue to struggle in front of goal, but they are sure to take plenty of confidence from the fact that they were able to keep an in-form Sydney FC outfit scoreless.
They have won nine of their past 15 games as home favourites and they continue to be a winning betting proposition in this scenario.
Wellington were gallant in defeat against Melbourne City and there is no doubt that they have played some better football in the past month.
The Phoenix have actually proven to be a profitable side as away underdogs, but they have still only won three of their past 11 games in this scenario.
Both these teams are tough to trust from a betting perspective and I am more than happy to stay out of this clash from a betting standpoint.